DISCOs seeks bailout over Military, MDAs N26bn debts

The power sector has joined the crave for bailouts as the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) for comfort against the crippling N26 billion owed it by the military and the civil service.
To start with, a unit in the sector comprising 11 distribution companies are considering disconnecting Military formations; Army, Air force and Navy as well as Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Nigerian Millitary, Para-military and Ministeries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government all over the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, are indebted to the 11 Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) currently operating in the country and this impedes their operations. 
Sunday Oduntan, Director, Research and Advocacy Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) said that Military formations in Kaduna, Lagos, Oyo, Kwara and Ogun states are owing the DISCOs more than N10 billion of the total electricity debts.
breakdown of the debts show that the Military and MDAs of both Federal State governments, are owing N6.7 billion under Kaduna DISCO; N7 billion under Abuja DISCO; N5.2 billion Ibadan DISCO; N2.3 billion under Eko DISCO; N3.8 billion under Benin DISCO; N860 million under Kano DISCO just as the debts in other DISCOs are running to several billions of naira. 

He said, “We need to understand that there are three layers in the value chain of electricity.
We have the GENCOs, they generate electricity and sell to the Federal Government through the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) who will then sell to us, DISCOs, 11 Distribution Companies across the country.

“Which means all the money we are collecting from distributing electricity to the public, we only retain less than 25% of all money as our own. All the remaining money goes to the other stakeholders. When you buy electricity, you supply out and the Military, the MDAs and people are either not paying their debts or stealing energy, you now have commercial and collection losses.

“In the case of non-payment, the greatest problem we have today is Nigerian Military, now giving the figures under the DISCOs or wherever you see Military formations, they are owing huge electricity debts and the problem we have is that, most of these Military formations have refused to pay and they are owing so much.

“I will just give you some of the examples, under Ibadan DISCO Military owes N3.9 billion; in Kaduna DISCO, the Nigerian Military owes N6.3 billion and owes N263 million under Kano DISCO. Our records also show that the Military and MDAs are owing Abuja DISCO about N7 billion, just as the Military and Para-military debts under Eko DISCO stand at N1.9 billion.

“I am also aware that Military and Ministeries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of various levels of government are owing the largest debts in all other DISCOs across the country and people are complaining about our services, with these mind-boggling debts, we can’t invest in metering, we can’t invest in transformers and I’m worried that the system may collapse.”
The spokesman of all the DISCOs, who accused Military men of beating them whenever they wanted to collect the electricity debts, however, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene and rescue members of staff from continual beating and humiliation they suffer from the Military men, adding that the debts are killing their businesses and prevent further investment.

“Now, the Military are found of not paying for electricity used and each time we try to collect the money, they beat us up. In Ogun state, Alamala 35 Artillery Brigade in Abeokuta, owes us N106 million; in Ota, the Military formation under Ota Business Unit, they are owing us N585 million. That is in the South-west alone.

“In the North-east under Kano DISCO, Nigerian Airforce Staff Quarters, Airport Road in Kano, owes N178 million, Kano State Waterworks owes us N153 million, Kano state government, as at the end of June, was owing N27 million, Audu Bako Secretariat owing N16 million. Katsina State Water Board, they are owing us N183 million now, I can go on and on.

“Under Kano DISCO, I am talking about Kano, Katsina and Jigawa states, MDAs of Federal, States and Local Governments are owing us a total of N860 million. Even hospitals, they are owing millions and millions of naira without paying, the Military hospitals in particular, the Military hospitals. In Kano alone, Military hospital owes us about N21 million.

“So, it is a big problem and we are calling on President Buhari, he has brought change, he should let the change extend to the Military and Security Agencies, they all pay their debts. We are aware that there are provisions in their budgets for payment of utilities. What has been happening to the money? It means that they have been diverting the money over the years.

“Well, I want to believe that we have change, a new government and I don’t think that any Military will disobey the Presidency. We know what we can do, it doesn’t take us much to disconnect them and put them in darkness and then resort to diesel if that is cheaper, but we don’t want to do that, we are responsible set of companies that believe in rule of law and new government with change mantra.”

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